• Kyodo

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The Democratic Party of Japan called Monday for a turnaround in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policies and said the main opposition party will work to narrow disparities in wealth and revive a “wealthy middle class.”

In its policy platform for the upcoming election, the largest opposition party attacks “Abenomics” policies as having worsened living conditions.

Instead, the DPJ platform, announced Monday, seeks a “flexible” monetary policy that takes heed of people’s lives and promises a growth strategy that will lead to a better future.

By emphasizing the viewpoint of “ordinary citizens,” the party aims to court voters critical of the Abe administration, centering on unaffiliated voters, according to party officials.

The platform seeks to apply “every policy resource” to achieving a society without nuclear power in the 2030s and ditching the Cabinet’s decision in July to reinterpret the Constitution to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense.

To deal with so-called gray-zone contingencies that have not developed to the level of necessitating the use of force, the party will propose legislating what it calls a territorial defense law.

On the contentious issue of relocating the U.S. Futenma base in Okinawa, the DPJ will maintain its stance of complying with the existing accord with the United States to transfer the base within the prefecture, despite local opposition.

The platform features the party’s signature measures that it championed when it held power between 2009 and 2012, such as income subsidies for farmers and a lump-sum subsidy system for local governments that was scrapped by the current administration.

On Sunday, DPJ leader Banri Kaieda blasted Abe’s move to dissolve the Lower House for a snap election halfway through its four-year term, saying, “He is trying to receive a blank check (to run the government) for the next four years, taking advantage of some leftover hopes for his economic policies.”

Referring to the LDP’s draft proposal of revising the Constitution to rename the Self-Defense Forces as the National Defense Force, Kaieda expressed concern that the supreme law may be “revised for the worse” if the LDP wins the election.

During the upcoming campaign, Kaieda said that the “opposition parties including Ishin no To (Japan Innovation Party) need to cooperate to block the prime minister’s ambitions.”

“There is a growing sense that the DPJ is perceived as being the only party that can confront the LDP government,” Kaieda said of the main opposition party, which held 54 seats in the Lower House that was dissolved Friday, compared with the LDP’s 294.

But he stopped short of revealing what the DPJ will do if the LDP fails to secure a majority on its own. He also declined to comment on a possible realignment of opposition parties.

Abe has said he will resign if the ruling coalition of his LDP and Komeito fails to secure a majority, or 238 of the 475 seats in the powerful chamber, where the total will be reduced from 480 as part of an overhaul to address vote weight disparities.

Meanwhile, Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, a co-leader of Ishin no To, the second-strongest opposition group in the Lower House, will not run in the upcoming election, party members said Sunday. Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui, the party’s secretary-general, will also refrain from running, they said.

Earlier, it was speculated that the two would run in single-seat districts where Komeito is poised to field candidates, given that the two parties are at odds over local administrative reform. While some party executives had wanted Hashimoto to run to give them a boost in the Dec. 14 election, others worried he would be seen as deserting his reforms in Osaka.

“We have come to a conclusion not to run this time in the Lower House election. Instead, we will contest unified local elections (next spring),” he was quoted as telling a closed-door meeting of Matsui’s supporters

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